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G&M Eyecare Moves into AudiologyGeorge and Matilda Eyecare is transitioning to become a “sensory company” with plans to integrate audiology services into all practices before the close of 2023. The first practice to be fitted out with a fully customised soundproof audiology room is George & Matilda Eyecare for Antonello Palmisani Optometrist, in Leichhardt, Sydney. The practice has moved to bigger premises and is due to re-open in mid-November. Chris Beer, Managing Director of G&M Eyecare, said integrating audiology into the practice model has been part of the plan since the company’s inception. “Our strategy was to wait until we had 100 G&M Eyecare practices and the resources in place to invest in providing and supporting this new service. We want to shake up the market – there are very few players and they’ve been around a long time. We also want to break the stigma of hearing loss, we want to make testing more accessible and we want to offer our patients high tech hearing aids that really make a difference to their lives.” G&M Eyecare has engaged Ant Hudson as General Manager of Audiology. Mr Hudson has experience in eye care having worked as Chief Operations Officer at Luxottica from 2010-2015 when Mr Beer was the company’s Managing Director. Since then, he has held various roles, most recently working in Australia for Demant, a Danish hearing healthcare company. Mr Hudson said introducing audiology to G&M aligned with his personal ambition to make a difference in the lives of our patients and our communities. “Vision and hearing are our two most important senses, yet unlike eye care, people who live with hearing loss tend to be in denial for longer – often seven to 10 years before they take any action. This can have an impact on their social and emotional wellbeing, including a higher risk of low self-esteem, low confidence, memory loss and depression, which all increase the risk of social isolation and dementia.” In Australia, about 3.6 million people have some level of hearing loss; over 1.3 million people live with a hearing condition that could have been prevented; and more than one in three have noise-related ear damage. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a much higher rate of ear disease than other children, which can result in hearing loss. “Audiology presents a massive opportunity for G&M Eyecare to make a difference with evidence to suggest that hearing loss prevalence in the adult population will increase from one in six currently to one in four by 2060,” said Mr Hudson. “As Australia’s population ages, the number of people with a hearing impairment is expected to more than double to an estimated 7.8 million people in 2060. “We will initially begin by offering audiology to our adult patients and we hope to be able to provide services through the Australian Government Services Hearing programme (HSP) soon. “While it’s not possible to offer a dedicated audiology service in every practice straight away – due to space and logistics – we will commence with a hub and spoke model. Some practices will have dedicated services, others will have visiting audiologists on a regular basis.”